Authors Note: This is my first SGA fanfic and it hasn't been beta-read so I apologize if it has grammar/spelling errors in or if the characters sound a bit off. Please let me know what you think of this, complaints, suggestions; any feedback would be helpful as long as it is constructive.

Also please read "Window to the Soul" and "A Sour Taste in the Mouth", as they tie in with this fanfic as does "The Days Today" the latest and last prequel to this story.

Here it is, the chapter where Rodney's prayers are kind of answered.

It's a bit overdue but I've basically fitted two chapters into one so I hope the wait was worth it and as always I'd love to hear what everyone thinks of it. Chapter 5 should be up within a week or so.

Spoilers: Possible spoilers for any episodes 1-14 Season one, though definitely for "The Eye" and "The Storm"

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Stargate in any incarnations of course and I'm not making any money, this is just some harmless fanfic fun.


Chapter 4: Denial doesn't make it the truth


Previously....

Sheppard looked up bravely and said it outright, about the best way it could come from him. "What she's saying, is they expect you to be married...", he took a another breath in before blurting out the rest of the truth, "... and I kinda told them you were."

and...

"And here he is, Doctor Weirs other half. The very modest Doctor McKay" The Deluthions turned around to a suddenly smiling Rodney McKay who never the less was sending otherwise imperceivable death glares to Major Sheppard.

and..

"...but just as long as you know I'm only doing his for you." Rodney shuffled a bit on the spot guiltily before adding "You did say they had lots of luxuries right?" Elizabeth noticed a sudden look in his eyes and the corners of his mouth turn up slightly as he appeared occupied with a fantastic thought. Then he turned back to her pronouncing as if a resolution, "I'm also doing this for the possibility of chocolate you understand. I will be severely disappointed if they don't have anything deliciously sweet to offer us."


There was a great fanfare as the guests arrived, a broad man in black robes announcing in a deep and honourable voice each of the pairs. He'd started with the king and queen, even though they'd been the first to enter, next had been them, announced as the king and queen of Atlantis. Sheppard had snorted with amusement but quieted down as he and Teyla had to walk through the double arched doorway rather reminiscent of a heart shape.

"Elana Deflora and Jareto Kllian, her promised"

At tall young woman came in, the resemblance made it obvious she was related to the king and queen, if not for the name. She walked in in a regal manner with long flowing golden hair swaying as she moved her head to look around slowly, seeing everyone and taking in the details. Elizabeth stood upright, meeting the womans gaze neutrally. There was something cold about the way she addressed people silently. No emotion there until someone caught her eye, that someone appeared to be Rodney who stood nervously next to her.

Things had been awkward since the kiss in the entrance hall and even her presence did not seem to calm him, but he smiled back at the princess. Elizabeth felt the corners of her mouth tug down, frowning, against her wish to remain impassive and in control as her job required.

The young man who followed her, her promised, scowled openly at Elana's affection towards one of the strangers among them. At first he seemed pretty, a rather delicate boy still lanky for his years but his handsomeness clearly wasn't matched with Elana's. Seeing his face twist in anger revealed a grotesque greed in his eyes for the girl and Elizabeth felt some pity for her, wondering if they were 'paired' by choice or for convenience. It seemed, however, to set the prince's mood for the whole dinner, a permanent scourge evident as they all joined the king and queen at the elaborately decorate table.

"Be seated." announced the king, lifting his goblet up to them.

They all shuffled along the side of the table opposite the king with herself and Rodney seated in the middle next to each other.

The Deluthions had promised a small gathering to welcome them on their first night, which had turned out to be a good group of twenty of their closest relatives, causing the crowded table.

As more people made their way to the benches she found herself pushed up closer to both of those seated next to her. Not that their hosts seemed to mind the cosy seating she thought as she spied the king and queen nearly seated in each others laps. Thinking themselves too formal looking for husband and wife, Elizabeth took hold of Rodney's hand, raising it with hers to sit on the table top. She met his confused look with a small smile that she hoped looked genuine. His found his hand was sweaty, shaking slightly. She took that to mean he found all the attention unnerving and squeezed his hand gently, meant reassuringly, before letting go and bringing her own hands to her lap neatly.

The king started to eat, picking up his food with the odd utensils.

She heard Rodney whisper into her ear, "Spork anyone?" and giggled a little at his comment. He seemed for a moment to be back to his usual self, both of them back to how it had used to be.

She tried to ignore the flash of sadness of how things had been recently, ever since that argument in her office which he'd stormed out of. Sometimes it had felt like he'd stormed out of her life rather than just her office, and she was enjoying this reprieve, finally seeing Rodney for more than just five minutes a day.

Everyone was tucking in, following the kings example, though not down to the tee – since the king and queen were now sharing their food, taking turns to food each other adoringly. There seemed to be little issue of the border between public and private to them, which made her wonder what trouble that might cause whilst they were here. Then she glanced across to her right, seeing Rodney studying the various plates of food, prodding some and sniffing small lumps.

He didn't notice her watching him as he scanned it all with an impression he wouldn't like where it was going.

Rodney spoke up at last, unsatisfied with his own conclusions.

"Is there any lemon in this food?"

The queen stopped abruptly, answering after some thought.

"Everything is citrus based, it is a great delicacy on our world."

"Everything?!" Rodney turned to look at Elizabeth, almost hysterical, half asking the question in a pitch that was nearest to a squeak she'd ever heard him do.

"Is it a problem?" asked the king, not understanding their concern.

"Dr McKay," she paused realising her mistake and correcting it, "Rodney, is allergic to citrus."

"Mortally allergic" add Rodney, wanting to emphasise exactly what was meant.

"We apologise we did not know."

Rodney continued on, in an equally high pitched voice as he had first had, oblivious to the sincerity of the queen.

"But I'll collapse, I'm hypoglycemic" he said turning panicked to Elizabeth, "I don't have any power bars with me since these damn clothes don't have any pockets" he said, padding the tunic for effect and a slight regret.

"Rodney..." her eyebrow went up, knowing he'd get the point between that and her warning tone.

It wasn't a good policy to insult when a guest. He calmed down at her look, sheepish but still very concerned.

"But it is only two courses that are savoury, then we will move on to the sweet foods."

"Sweet foods?"

Elizabeth saw a certain surprise and wonder in his voice, they'd long since run out of chocolate and even sugar for coffee. More recently coffee had been rationed and Rodney had had to make do with 4 cups a day which had not had the effect one would think. They'd all observed him getting more exuberant and eccentric without the coffee, almost as if it had a tranquilising effect, quite the reverse of what was normal – she smiled at the memory of a dumbfounded Carson, expressing disbelief at the fact in a deep Scottish brogue, the emotion drawing out his accent as was usual.

But back to the moment she found Rodney staring at the queen as if what she said was too good to believe.

The queen looked unnerved by this, filling in the conversation more for Rodney's awed silence.

"Yes, the last three courses. None will have any citrus in, it is not a desired combination to have bitter with sweet."

She smiled brilliantly at him, an ecstatic grin on his face at the news, anticipating pudding in the plural, a sugar overload that she hoped they could all handle. Leading to him saying "Well lets get on with it then" in an eagerness that as soon as they had finished the beginning two courses he could start his first.

The talk was idle as they sat on their benches, usually restricted to the few people beside or opposite. It was hard to keep up with the five or six small conversations along the table, but she didn't want to miss the opportunity to learn more about their race, something Teyla seemed keen to do as she had already asked several questions about their culture. Sheppard was keeping quiet, happy eating and listening to Teyla's conversation. There were a few other less interesting topics being discussed, as ford made small talk with a shy courtesan about the food and several others gossiped among themselves.

The only conversation that she truly felt the need to listen to was the one right in front of her, battling across the sides between Jareto, Elana, her parents occasionally and Rodney who had nothing better to do than watch them eat, eyeing food hungrily, or to join in the argument.

Elana had begun very neutrally, posing the question of what might come of the crossing between their two peoples but soon it become a heated test of the wills between her eagerness to share all and Jareto's paranoia and obvious distrust of their 'new allies'.

The king and queen interrupted politely, inserting diplomatic comments to balance the argument as it progressed, though growing concerned as it blew out of proportion.

And the whole thing came crashing down in one second, as Rodney made some snide comment she had missed. What had not been lost on her were the reactions of the two others, Jareto fixed a sharp stare at him and Elana had just stopped for a minute before bursting into incontrollable laughter, at which her future partner only grew more annoyed, the glance skipping between Rodney and Elana.

Rodney had for a that minute stopped breathing, she guessed wondering if he'd stuck his foot in it very undiplomatically but he broke out in a smile as the girl sobbed with laughter, seeing no real harm was done.

She smiled herself, humouring the tense situation, the king and queen doing so as well, perhaps grateful he had diffused the two's tiff.

From then on they had moved swiftly to the puddings, with Rodney being offered twice as much as everyone else. He dug in enthusiastically, spoilt for choice, taking a bit of everything he had.

She opted for a little of a select few plates, knowing there would be several more courses and not wanting to hit her limit just yet.

She caught a comment further up from Sheppard, something whispered not so quietly to Teyla about McKay looking like he was in heaven. She had to agree he looked very happy though it may just have been the sweet high.

The puddings weren't the only sweet thing at the table though. Since the end of the argument, Elana had been sending appreciative looks to Rodney, he was oblivious in his own private sugary bliss, eyes only for his plate and the serving dishes but Elizabeth had seen them too many times to be mistaken. She was thankful they were seated opposite, not liking the thought of what more Elana might do if sat next to Rodney, for nothing of those looks was innocent. Any sweetness was thick, syrupy and sick and something that made her want to send the girl daggers, but she refrained remind herself she had no place. Until she remembered that her she did and two could play that game.

"Enjoying the meal, Elana? Jareto?" she said innocently, bringing their attention to one another, Elana looking up from her sly stare at Rodney which Elizabeth was now sure Jareto had seen.

Elana went quiet, looking back for a long moment before putting on a mock pleasantness and smiling coyly at Jareto as she replied. "Of course, how could one not enjoy a meal with those dear to her."

Jareto's brows curled in confusion before he looked grateful of the sentiment, a more flattering look passing over his face showing he was pleased and that it was a treasured rarity from her.

But even as she ended her words Elizabeth saw the daring glance to Rodney as she turned from her beloved Jareto on the right to her accuser.

She said nothing more to that, feeling it dangerous to challenge the hotheaded princess twice in succession.


Rodney felt chilly as they were walked to their room, deep in the royal residences.

Full from the meal he wanted to do nothing more than to collapse on a warm bed and fall asleep.

The only problem was Elizabeth, sharing a room with her.

There had been no time to make up some excuse of earth having different customs, the Deluthions had already asked that at dinner, near the end and Sheppard had foolishly answered without thought before anyone could. Teyla had missed her mark too, stamping on his foot as she'd seen others do in similar situation but john had completely missed it's significance and carried on whilst giving Teyla an annoyed perplexed look. The Deluthions had been happy with the answer, pleased no alternative arrangements needed to be made and Sheppard had given him an apologetic look later as they'd exited from the dining hall but Rodney sweared he wouldn't get off that easy.

Something he amended when they got to the room, he was very very sure Sheppard would not get off with that scowl only.

There was only one bed, one particularly small bed. The attendant hadn't known what was wrong as the pair of them had stared in horror at it.

It was obvious but somehow his mind had ignored the possibility.

The attendant left them staring at it, and Rodney waited until he was totally gone to speak

"Don't worry, I'll sleep on the floor."

He moved to take some of the lush coverings for himself but she spoke up strangely, still looking at the bed in thought.

"No, that won't look right if anyone comes in to wake us."

Whilst it was true he didn't want to give in that easily, only she wouldn't take no for an answer and he found himself wondering how they were going to manage this.

He felt hot, flushed almost and realised the bedroom was heated unlike the wide corridors, and he was unnaturally warm.

"Um, I need to undress," quickly adding a but, "not completely...er, where do I do that?" he asked Elizabeth.

The room was devoid of anything screen like, with no adjoining bathroom.

She sat back to him, not able to see her face.

"Don't worry I won't look, you're safe."

It was a joking tone but she didn't seem happy with this anymore than him.

He started to take off his weird robes and trousers, getting down to his undergarments, glad he'd worn his best for the occasion even though he didn't want her to see them.

Then it occurred to him he'd have to do the same. He sat down on the edge of the bed, back to her.

"Ok, all done. Now you, got my back to you, promise I won't peek."

The room was quiet except for the small sounds of fabric creasing, curious noises hat made him wonder what was happening. Then he heard the door creak, jumping up and round, an attendant standing in the entrance with extra bedlinen.

"What are you doing, you didn't even knock?!" he exclaimed loudly, forgetting the differences they might have here.

The attendant was shocked, meekly replying as if hurt by Rodney's words.

"You both looked dissatisfied with the bed. I came here with more bedding, i did not wish you to be displeased with our arrangements. I am sorry,I will go."

With those words he placed the throws on the floor by the entrance and retreated noting the man was no longer paying attention to him.

Rodney realised his mistake when he heard the boy leaving, he hadn't heard the last thing the boy had said, his eyes having drifted down to see how Elizabeth had reacted, forgetting her state of undress.

And now even though she hadn't seen him look at her she would know, he must have been looking in her direction towards the door. he felt guilty for breaking his promise, he hadn't meant to but he felt uncomfortable. He would have blushed if he could and was glad he'd retreated under the covers, hiding any embarrassing things including his boxers. They were his best but that wasn't saying too much really, suddenly nervous at the idea of her seeing him similarly. What would she say to his Darkwing Duck emblazoned underwear? Though a better question he chose to ignore was what would she say seeing him in only boxers generally.

He clutched the covers around him, as high as he could get, up to his neck despite making him overheat and looked over to her.

She still sat on the edge of the bed, in her red knickers and vest top. Both simple and practical from his view but no less appealing. Thank god he could only see the back view.

She had said nothing since her first promise not to look. Was she angry?

"Elizabeth?"

He could expect a lot of different things to come out of her mouth in response but her girlish giggling wasn't one of them. she doubled over, as if it was all so funny and made her sides split before curling onto the bed next to him and continuing what was now a laughing fit.

"What's so funny?" he asked bemused.

She tried to pull her face back to it's normal dimensions but only laughed more, clutching her arm across his covered chest for support.

He found himself smiling at such a carefree moment, finding it funny in a bizarre way.

She tried once more to speak, a few words came out broken by her infectious grin between laughs.

"I........don't........know.........can't.........stop" came the fractured reply over a minute or two.

Eventually it subsided and they were left there, Elizabeth sleepily clinging to him whilst on top of the covers, him underneath trapped but not unpleasantly so.

It was surreal and for a little while at least, then and in the following dreams he had, it was almost believable they were together.


She awoke to cool air, wondering why until she opened her eyes and recalled the whole thing that had happened last night.

Something odd had come over her, a release of something that had come out in one go. She couldn't remember when she'd last had a laughing fit, if she ever had since her childhood.

She stretched her fingers, surprised to hear a groggy moan, then realising her arms was draped across Rodney's half asleep form. He jerked his head, mumbling something, still not properly awake.

She withdrew her arm, taking this opportunity to dress without a repeat of last nights happenings. It was hard to classify what had happened, it had been so strange but it wasn't something she wanted to repeat. Well, she knew that wasn't entirely true, it mostly fit in perfectly with how they were meant to act. But it couldn't happen again because they hadn't needed to act then and it hadn't been acting either. And she knew they'd failed where it mattered most, the confused attendant's face had said that much. She wanted to get to breakfast as soon as possible to find out what if anything had gone around. The people round her weren't ones to scoff at the concept of gossip as the meals courtesans attested to.


He'd been prodded at far too early an hour, Elizabeth threatening to throw off the covers if he wasn't up in the five minutes after she'd gone to refresh herself in the gardens, to take in the morning air she'd said.

It was just an excuse to get away from him he knew, and though he was grateful that she wouldn't see his childish boxers because he would of course be ready when she came back, he also knew the night had left another disquieting air between them. More uneasy if possible than the scene he'd made a month or so ago.

She'd returned as promised, punctual and they'd walked silently to the dining hall, running into the queen on their way there.

Queen Cassina greeted them fairly normally, Rodney being glad there were no more customs they needed to adhere to for it, just a simple easy and non-awkward hello as was usual.

She presented them with a bottle and a knowing smile he didn't like to see.

"What's this for?" he asked, aware he sounded very defensive, looking the gift horse in the mouth and all. But you couldn't be too careful on this planet.

"It is just a simple gift for you both, my husband and I heard of the incident of the previous even."

Incident? he thought, disturbed that it would be known as that or even known at all.

"You know?"

"We all do, there are no secrets here in our court."

He doubted that was true but kept his mouth shut not risking saying anymore.

Elizabeth took the gift gratefully, she made it all seems so easy as she thanked the queen, eliciting a nostalgic smile from the woman.

"Do not thank me, thank the spirits for you luck, that you have such young love, a passion yet to be explored, so tentative are the first joyous years."

He forced a smile as the woman beamed at them, watching them both together.

The stare made him feel anxious and he took the gift from Elizabeth, examining it to avoid the Queens happy gaze.

There was some brief chatter between Elizabeth and Cassina in which he noted Teyla and the others also knew about the 'incident', he hated to think what they'd say about it especially if the gossip got around like Chinese whispers, who knew what they thought had happened even though really it had been about what hadn't. As far as he could tell the Deluthions admired their newness to it all, not knowing exactly how new it all was or how fake either. Though Rodney wished he knew how fake it was himself. He was however distracted from everything else, conversation and thought by the taste of the substance he'd dipped his finger in.

"It's maple syrup! It's maple syrup!" he cried in delight.

It was a miracle, stranded in the Pegasus galaxy and he'd found maple syrup. He'd only really said it twice for effect but it had been enough to catch the womens attention.

"It is the syrup of the Gartio tree, as we know it at least."

He looked up at what the queen said, an inspiration upon him, looking to Elizabeth's stunned visage

"The ancients must have brought it here, or put it on Earth, either way we have maple syrup. Just think of the possibilities, it'd go great with pancakes and waffles, if only we could get some...."

He trailed off with a torrent of thoughts on the matter but not finishing as the queen started talking again sounding greatly concerned at what he'd said.

"Pancakes? If they are a food you should know we it is not meant for such a use."

He paused in his musing, stopping at how well it would go with the fruit salad MRE.

"It's not? What do you use it for, please tell me you do eat it" he pleaded.

"Oh yes," the queen said with a tiny laugh, flipping her flowing grey hair back over her shoulder, "but it is for two people to enjoy between themselves. Why would we waste such a delicious thing on a food."

She wandered off chuckling lightly and leaving Rodney standing stock still, one sticky finger held up and the bottle luckily still held tightly by his tense grip.

Rodney's face flitted between utter disbelief and comprehension as he stood watching the Deluthion Queen retreat gracefully to their version of a lounge.

"Did she just imply what I think she did?"

Elizabeth tried to suppress the urge to giggle at the weirdness of the exchange that they'd just had. Settling only on a "Yes" for fear she'd betray her calm diplomatic exterior further. However, Rodney didn't seem amused, rather unsettled for the third time since they'd arrived there.

He looked back at the bottle mournfully; pancakes would never be the same again.

"And here I was thinking it was the most innocent of foods."

It was extremely bad combining the desirability of his sweet tempered friend, who he admitted was very attractive, with one of his favourite condiments, itself highly tempting. He feared he would never get the image out of his head, which would make looking her in the eye very difficult without it bringing up inappropriate thoughts, feelings and possibly reactions.

Elizabeth seemed to be asking if he was asked ok., hard to say since he was standing eyes glazed over, a mix of horror and glee on his face and he knew that would be what it looked like.

Then he opened his eyes wide, suddenly hypersensitive to how close she stood and how she was touching him, firm grip on his shoulder, thumb caressing unconsciously in what she must have thought was reassuringly. It only made him feel entirely the opposite, so he shirked her touch, making what he knew were feeble excuses about not wanting to miss breakfast and offend the hosts.

He walked off with the gift, leaving her hurt and pondering what she'd done.


The rest of the morning meal was fairly uneventful, nothing said in front of the Deluthion courtesans , even though there were several inquiring looks form Sheppard and Ford.

It was only Teyla who was contented for the duration of the dining.

He was the last to leave, Elizabeth getting off early to go to witness the congress she had been informed happened at ten o'clock by their standards.

It had been odd to eat sweets for breakfast but they were one of the few royal dishes that did not contain lemon the server had advised him and he'd accepted it and told them he could provide some recipes if they liked.

He was on his way to the kitchens straight after since he had nothing else to do apart from await Elizabeth's return.

He turned right as the waiter had instructed, followed by Teyla. Her lithe feet sped up, soon walking at his fast pace. She gave him a look. It had no name, it was indescribable but he knew what it signaled.

He stopped, facing her and cradling the syrup bottle protectively. "What?" he asked impatiently.

She took her eyes off the gift, looking to him. "What is it?" she asked as she moved her gaze back to the blue bottle, peering at it unable to ascertain its contents.

Well, it wasn't the question he'd been expecting. Ever since the whole bizzaro world turned-into-a-teenager-for-a-day and his chat with her in the Athosian tent, he'd had this agitation when her gaze meandered to him. Like she could read his thoughts, it was silly he knew, she couldn't actually do that but that never stopped the sensation.

" It's maple syrup, gift from the hobnobs, the Major should have told you about that unless it would be considered cruel to tell you abut the finest product Canada has and not have any to sample. Anyway I'm not likely to use it the way they intended, more likely Sheppard and you would find it......beneficial." he said with an amused grin, that faltered at her curt response.

"Is it not intended for sexual activity. Why would you presume Major Sheppard and I to need it?"

She was wily, she'd known all along what it was, it had been a trick to get him talking.

One that worked and now he'd dug himself in a hole. This was why he hated this happening, being alone with Teyla was not good for his mental stability.

"Its just more likely, you and John are good friends. I'm not saying you are anything else but if anyone was going to need it..."

That hadn't come out right, nothing ever did when she questioned him, it only incriminated him more.

"Why would I and Major Sheppard need it more than you and Dr Weir. Are you not friends? Would it not be just as likely if not more so."

There was an ever so logical element to her reasoning, far more sense in it then his weak attempts at an explanation. She raised an eyebrow carefully and he resisted the urge to call her Spock, feeling it wasted with no Earth humans about. Sheppard would have appreciated it most and have been left to explain too, only he was absent from the inquisition. Another quote popped up when he thought that. No expects the Spanish inquisition; nor the Athosian one either. Mental note to himself to use that next time Sheppard was under the limelight from her, if she'd ever get off his case first that was.

"Yes but what does that have to do with it.?"

The chance he'd like her response was minute but he tried to out reason her vainly. He was a scientist and he should be ashamed he couldn't win this mild mannered argument. Only problem was this wasn't about quantum physics, theoretical or not, it was about people, relationships or the lack of specifically. Or more like the denial of. She could see it plain as day, that was what unnerved him. What annoyed him was she wanted to hear him admit it.

"You and Dr Weir have a deeper friendship than John and I."

The next part came out before he could stop to think of a better way to express it. He was trapped in the verbal and logical equivalent of a spiders web, her honed mind closing in on his, far more experienced; more than enough to out wit him in such matters.

"That's it, it's just friendship Teyla. Elizabeth's my friend, nothing more."

There was no way she'd leave it at that and walk off. He was correct, she added just a few words more but they were vital and the crushing blow.

"...But you wish for more".

Teyla was normally good at spotting subtle things that no one else would, it made her a good trader, able to see weakness and tell lies from truth but he didn't like that she could see right through him.

He knew she'd won technically because any refutal would be futile, interpreted much th same way as the Shakespearean 'I think he doth protest too much' for sure.

There was an option left. She thought she had won but she hadn't, it was a draw. Rodney decided silence was golden, it had worked for him so far, depending on your idea of works.


Elizabeth was lost. The halls were grand but all too similar.

She was pleased to see the familiar face of Teyla who but dropped her smile when she saw the serious face of the woman, no cheerful facade today.

"Dr. Weir."

The greeting was formal, down to business. If only she knew what business she had with her but she had no doubt Teyla would let her know.

"I wanted to discuss with you your's and Dr McKay's position"

It seemed a strange time to bring the issue up, she'd long since forgiven Teyla for not being able to stop the Major, if anyone had ever been likely to be able to in the first place.

"Don't worry Teyla its not your fault, it was John who agreed to this." Elizabeth said cautious of who could be hanging around.

"That is not what I meant to discuss."

"Then what? This isn't good place to talk about it, walk this way" she signaled away from nearby courtesan's room she'd found on her exploring and searching for her quarters.

"I wish to know how you are...this is a sudden change for you both."

"What do you mean Teyla" she asked warily, well aware what Teyla was referring to. She'd have been surprised if the Athosian leader hadn't noticed the change in their behaviour but she still didn't like her mentioning it one bit.

"For a month you have both been absent from each others presence, I have not seen you together except for in meetings."

"We've both been busy. I have a lot of work Teyla, you know that and Rodney's the same." she replied, as if Teyla should know better.

"For those who are important we make time and I do not believe that Dr McKay is so unimportant that you could not make time to socialise with him."

"Your point?"

It was blunt, perhaps more than had meant to come out.

And it only frustrated Teyla further, fueling her argument.

"Why do you both deny your feelings?"

"Our feelings?" she asked incredulous at the question Teyla posed.

She didn't really need to ask but she did anyway, not ready to give in. It made her angry that she would bring it up here of all times and places.

"You both appear to wish to ignore that you care for each other even though it does neither of you any good."

Teyla was right and they both knew but Elizabeth didn't like being told what was the right thing to do, she didn't take orders or these kind of 'suggestions' even if Teyla had her interests at heart. It was her problem, hers to deal with and so she dealt with it by lying blatantly. Not admitting it left no room for talking of it unless Teyla wished to call it a lie out loud, something she didn't think they'd got to yet.

"Frankly I don't know what your talking about. I have been very busy and I can't put personal issues before Atlantis. Rodney is my friend and I know he understands"

Teyla unusually scowled at her, deeply annoyed at what she'd said judging from her clenched jaw.

"I believe he does understand but it is not about what you say it is. You both avoided each other until now, where you are forced together. I was worried but now I hope some good may come out of this predicament, you have no choice to pretend what is true. I pray that you see what is good of this."

They stood, both braced by the strong words but silently fuming, neither having any more to say on the subject.

Then Elizabeth heard light footsteps, Elana emerging further down the corridor, walking towards her serenely, seeming inordinately happy.

Looking back Teyla was retreating, deliberately using the entrance of the princess as her opportune ending of the discussion between them.

Elizabeth mused she'd prefer Teyla's fury more than the predatory Elana. She walked like she owned everyone and thing, swinging her hips as she approached incredibly slowly. She knew Elizabeth knew she wanted to talk to her and she was making her wait for her to reach her.

"A little tiff? Whatever over, not your dear husband I hope."

Elana should not have had any reason to suspect that was the subject, unless...

The footsteps had been very softly placed but not the quietest Elizabeth believed the soft slippers Elana wore could bear. Elana had been snooping, not such a crime when it was her home but Elizabeth didn't like to think what amount of that conversation the prissy princess might have heard. Or who she might tell.

Not her parents, the girl was a lot more cunning than that. If she would use it she'd use it well, to her advantage, only Elizabeth wasn't too sure how that would be.

There was also the way she pronounced 'husband'. It wasn't a native word, they appeared to use the terms promised and partnered much like they used engaged and married. Still the sound from the girls lips seemed to mock the term, but Elizabeth couldn't be sure she knew and didn't intend to give any information away. She let Elana speak first.

"I will be looking forward to seeing Rodney at the ball tonight."

She hated the fact Elana used his first name as if she knew him intimately, she had no right to. Then her head caught up with the rest of the sentence.

"The ball?" she queried, wishing she hadn't but knowing it was better to know than to face the confident princess who liked having the upper hand.

"Yes, it is late, after the grand meal. There will be dancing and drink, there is after all much to celebrate, so much to appreciate that you will bring to us."

it was a subtle hint, a veiled threat, not that there was anything she could do unless she wanted to ruin the negotiations that would start tomorrow. There was an informal agreement between their peoples but no fine details layed out. The Deluthions liked getting to know them, befriending them before getting down to the nittygritty. It was either a refreshing level of trust or a tactic as cunning as their daughter might employ.

There was an abrupt change in topic, one Elizabeth had not expected.

"You are lucky to have such a husband, but tell me what is the exact meaning of the word. It is different is it not to our word partner."

It was fairly innocuous as questions went and she perhaps let her guard down a little, answering with ease.

"It seems to be mostly the same actually."

The second question she should have seen coming but the first had been so designed to be unconcerning.

"I am curious do marriages last forever on your world?" the girl asked as she circled her, like a vulture, picking apart the intricacies of marriage, or at least the only one she concerned herself with. Elizabeth didn't like to think why, though she could hazard a guess.

"It depends, on the people, on the circumstances..."

She would have gone on but Elana cut her off brutally.

"That's a no then." she asked rhetorically, obviously pleased but perhaps wanting to hear a confirmation.

When she said nothing further Elana felt she had to continue, most likely wanting to show off her knowledge, as if she held a power over her.

"Less than ten hours left in which to prepare but I'm sure you'll try your best for your husband." she said, walking off before she was finished, once again leisurely. She gave a slight pause to look Elizabeth up and down with a small smirk of superiority as she departed.

There was the tone again, around husband, like she didn't believe it meant anything.

Whilst Elizabeth knew it didn't mean what they'd pretended, it did mean something and the real point was that Elana should know what it meant and respect that until she was sure otherwise. Which Elizabeth hoped the girl couldn't be sure of, there hadn't been more than vague mentioning of the real situation in her and Teyla's conversation, most of it would not make sense unless you had a decent clue what was going on already... but that was what she was afraid of.

If Elana started to show her doubt in public then others might get suspicious.

There had also been this urge to respond to the last comment cattily, one she'd swallowed, saving it for later if at all. There was little to do in response, not worth risking a battle of words anywhere others might here in case Elana did know and said too much.

There was something there even if the girl didn't know the truth. It was actually worse if she didn't know, plotting to steal away her husband anyway. And there was that snide replacing of 'look' with 'try' as well, insinuating she wasn't good enough looking to be Rodney's wife, that she couldn't stand her ground as a woman.

The only way she could fight that was matching fire with fire

With that she changed her plan and double backed to the courtesans rooms to arrange something she hoped would work and send Elana round the bend with envy.


A/N This chapter is a lot longer than meant (taken me 7 hours to write it, way more than I thought, it's 1am now!). There are only about 4 more chapters left, next one should be similar length since there's a lot going to be going on. hope it was as fun to read (or more so) as it was to write it.

Anyway a brief overview to tease you all (if you can guess rightly what the third is then I'll be surprised enough to write almost any one thing you desire into the fanfic – this applies to anyone but Iona, my beta, because she already got it a while ago.)

....the ball of course, with couples dancing as expected but not as you might expect

....discussion of 'their wedding' at the meal

....a drunken Rodney slips up and reveals something even Elizabeth didn't know about his past

....a little Sheyla (not much but it's there)

....and an evil cliffhanger where things look very, very bad for one of the Atlantis team.